Rockets coach Stephen Silas said he is giving star James Harden “space” amid trade rumors, though he is confident the one-time NBA MVP will still be with the team when the 2020-21 season gets underway.
Harden reportedly wants to be traded to the Nets, where he would reunite with former Thunder teammate Kevin Durant and team up with Kyrie Irving. Talk of Harden’s future has been further amplified after Russell Westbrook was dealt to the Wizards in exchange for John Wall and a first-round draft pick on Wednesday.
But first-year coach Silas, who replaced Mike D’Antoni, is confident regarding Harden in Houston.
“When stuff like this kind of happens where there’s a little indecision and stuff going on, I kind of take a step back and allow guys some space,” Silas told reporters Thursday. “From my perspective, my communication has been, ‘I’m giving you space,’ and that’s kind of where it’s been as far as my communication with him.
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“Guys like that need that. They need to figure it out, and they don’t need someone banging on them all the time to kind of figure out where they’re at and whatnot.”
Harden has called Houston home since 2012 and signed a contract extension through the 2022-23 season in 2017, but the sharpshooter reportedly turned down a new deal and wants to leave the Rockets in pursuit of a maiden championship.
In 2019-20, points scored by Harden and points scored off his assists averaged 52.4 per game. That followed 53.9 per game in 2018-19, 51.3 per game in 2017-18 and 56 per game the season previous. The four successive seasons with 50-plus points per game created tied Oscar Robertson (1963-64 to 1966-67) for the longest streak in NBA history.
Harden last season averaged 34.3 points, 7.5 assists and 6.6 rebounds per game for the Rockets, who lost in the Western Conference semifinals at Walt Disney World Resort.
“I’m confident that he’ll be all-in,” Silas said. “That’s where I’m leaving it. As I said, I’m giving him his space to do his thing, but I’m confident that he’ll be here when we get started.”
Silas added: “Everybody is excited about the possibilities that we have. Us having multiple ways to play on both ends of the floor and having the talent of DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall and Christian Wood to meld with the previous guys that were on the team.
“James is going to have the ball a lot, like he has in the past. Like I said, we’re not going to change things so drastically that the offense isn’t going to be as effective as it has in the past.
“We’re going to try to change things to make it a little bit more diverse, but he’s going to have the ball quite a bit.”